Robert Durst, estate heir convicted of murder, dead at 78

Jan. 10 (Reuters) – Robert Durst, the multimillionaire real estate heir who was serving a life sentence for murder in California and was the prime suspect in two more murders in the past four decades, has died in prison at the age of 78, his lawyer’s office said on Monday.

Chip Lewis’ law firm told Reuters he died of natural causes, while Lewis told the New York Times that Durst suffered cardiac arrest and died in San Joaquin General Hospital, where he had been taken away for tests.

Durst had previously been prepared to take over The Durst Organization, one of New York’s leading real estate companies, but instead spent much of his formative years escaping law enforcement and the last years of his life by jail.

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Durst mostly kept one step ahead of the law until he said to himself while directing the 2015 HBO documentary series “The Jinx,” in which Durst was caught in a hot mic and thought to himself: “What did I do? … Killed them all, of course.”

Durst was arrested just before the last episode aired.

His wife Kathleen McCormack Durst disappeared in New York City in 1982, but no charges were laid until a Los Angeles county in September convicted Durst of the 2000 murder of his best friend Susan Berman.

Prosecutors said Berman was set to reveal that she helped Durst create a cover story about his wife’s disappearance.

In New York, after the Los Angeles trial ended, a Westchester County grand jury indicted him for the murder of his wife.

Robert Durst sits for the opening statements of his murder trial in Los Angeles, California, United States on March 4, 2020. Etienne Laurent / Pool via REUTERS

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Prosecutors also said Durst killed his neighbor Morris Black in Galveston, Texas in 2001 because Black discovered his identity at a time when Durst was in hiding from the law, sometimes disguising himself as a silent woman.

A Galveston jury acquitted Durst, who pleaded in self-defense, although Durst also admitted to dismembering Black’s body.

Durst listed his many health issues on the witness stand, including surgeries for esophageal and bladder cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, neuropathy, chronic kidney disease and lung disease. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. A shunt relieved the pressure on his brain.

Shortly after his conviction in Los Angeles, his lawyer revealed that he had also contracted COVID-19.

Los Angeles County District Attorney John Lewin, who pursued Durst for years, credited “The Jinx” filmmakers Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling for their revealing interviews with Durst, telling reporters after the verdict: “Without that they conducted the interviews, we wouldn’t have been where we are. “

Durst’s story was also described in the 2010 film “All Good Things”, starring Ryan Gosling and directed by Jarecki.

Durst is the grandson of Joseph Durst and the son of Seymour Durst, who made The Durst Organization one of New York’s premier real estate companies and developed some of Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers.

A long time ago, Robert Durst left the company, now run by his ex-brother Douglas Durst, who testified at the trial and said about his brother: “He would like to murder me.

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Reporting by Daniel Trotta and Tyler Clifford; Editing by Susan Heavey and Howard Goller

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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